Canberra: Maligned Australian tennis player Bernard Tomic has ended speculation he might be barred from representing Australia at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games after voluntarily withdrawing from contention overnight.
The 23-year-old, worth $7.5 million, has made himself unavailable for the Olympics in August, instead choosing to defend his ATP tour title in Los Cabos, Mexico, which he won last year, reports Xinhua.
In a statement released on Friday, Tomic cited his “extremely busy” schedule for the withdrawal, and said in the interest of his tennis development, playing an ATP tournament for ranking points was “best” for his career.
“With a heavy sense of regret, I have made the difficult decision to not play with the Australian tennis team as they pursue an Olympic medal in Rio,” Tomic said in a statement.
“I have always proudly represented my country in Davis Cup and given my all when wearing the green and gold, but on the basis of my extremely busy playing schedule and my own personal circumstances, I am regrettably unable to commit to this year’s tournament. I make this decision based on what is best for my tennis career.
“I had made a commitment to the tournament’s organizers to defend my title before I knew that the date changed.”
Tomic’s poor on-court behavior had, in recent weeks, become a talking point in Australia, with the nation’s Olympic chef de mission Kitty Chiller even threatening to disallow the world No. 22 from representing Australia.
Earlier this month in Madrid, Tomic seemingly gave up when he was match point down against Fabio Fognini. The Australian held his racquet by the head and meekly attempted to return the ball with the handle, while a week later in Rome he pulled out of his first-round match after just three games.
Although he beat the Olympic committee to the punch on Friday, Australian tennis legend Lleyton Hewitt said Tomic would not have made the decision lightly.
Hewitt infamously decided against competing at the 2004 Athens Olympics for similar reasons, and said missing ATP events to compete in the Olympics could be detrimental to Tomic’s rise up the rankings.
“Scheduling can always be difficult in these circumstances,” Hewitt said.
“Bernie has always made himself available to play for Australia in the Davis Cup and he is very passionate about playing for his country.”
Tomic joins fellow high-profile Aussie, and golfer, Adam Scott in pulling out of the Olympics. Scott pulled out last month also citing scheduling conflicts.